Saturday, June 28, 2008

All fear the mighty Fly Hunter Woman! Armed only with a fly stick, I hunt the common housefly and swat them down!

The other week I was able to pick up a box of those sticky fly ribbons. I uncoiled them partway, and hung them for a few days so that the glue would solidfy around the coils and make a stick-like thing. Today they were stiff enough not to collapse, and I had a sticky fly stick. Then I went hunting.

One of the drawbacks to living right here is the flies. Granted, it's nothing compared to what the folks on the dairies have to contend with. However, having the doors and windows open for a few hours in the morning is drawing the flies inside with a greater regularity. They come in and buzz around us and generally annoy the heck out of everyone for a few days until they die. Unfortunately, we open those doors and windows every morning for a few hours. There are new flies coming in all the time now. The only place I can hang the ribbons according to the directions are out of the way of the flies. If I hang them where the flies are, I would catch not only flies but the children. The glue stick, though, that is my new solution to the problem. When the babies were down for morning naps I took the stick and carefully moved it near the flies. It took some doing, but I did manage to get them. Five flies! They will bother me no more. And now that I know this theory works, I'm going to keep doing it. I foresee a less annoying week in my future.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Managing to eat according to my diabetes is becoming easier. The home-oriented life I get to lead right now; letting the Boy have the car all day, not having to run here and there and everywhere... it helps. I've got an easy breakfast menu in my routine, I've gotten the hang of making sure my lunch is nearly all protein. By keeping the breakfast in limits I can control the glucose reading. If I "pass" breakfast and lunch I can eat moderately safely at dinner and pass. For someone who hearts carbs the way I do, keeping them in check is very hard. I know it can be done, I'm working on ways to make the foods I can eat more palatable and yummy to me.

It doesn't help that I'm still fighting that fasting number. One suggestion that I've heard is that my overnight sugar might be bottoming out and then rebounding, giving me a floppy number. This explains why, when I pig out on a higher sugar item at bedtime my number gets closer to the target. Last night I tried to eat more, and got up when the Boy did this morning to check my glucose. And it was, in fact, pretty low. When I got up at the normal time the number was high again. Tonight I'm going to try to do it again and see what happens. What irritates me the most is that it's trial and error.

Seems to me, sometimes, that everything in my life is trial and error. One big science experiment. Will one thing work, or another? Everything I do turns into a lesson of how to/how not to do things. Eating a certain food brings my sugar up. Eating something else seems counterproductive but results in lower numbers. I learn that it's about the numbers, about eating and exercising how I have to in order to produce the right numbers at the right time. If the numbers are right my blood sugar is balanced and the diabetes is considered under control. If the numbers are not right I feel lousy and either vow to try harder or throw my hands up and binge on ice cream.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

It's a wonderful feeling to see a child splashing her way through the wading pool first thing in the morning. We're under a smoke warning right now, which today means that nobody should be outside more than necessary. For my daughter, today, a small dose is necessary. She's become used to going outside for a few minutes every morning. Fresh air, exercise, the illusion of independence- mommy stays inside for the most part, keeping a watchful eye through the patio door, and the fenced in yard ensures her locational safety.

A side benefit is that I can make sure the back yard gets watered. I move the wading pool to a new section of yard in the morning, fill with water (not to the top, because there's a drought on), and on the watering days (every other) I dump the water and hose down the inside before filling again with a few inches of water. Whatever works.

Today she enjoyed her water play, her mud play, and then came in and put herself in the bathtub. All I had to do was fill it and help her peel off the wet clothes. She was able to wash herself, play a bit more, and drain the tub when done. She even hung up the drainplug so it would stay nice. Isn't that the best thing?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Still working on getting my stamina back. I don't know how. I do know that I need to do it so that I can keep up with the kids. I've been saying that for months if not years. So- focusing on basics. Drink water. Move my body every day. Breathe deep and let go of stress. Make healthier choices in the kitchen.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Monday already? Darn it all, where did the time go? It's another week, another fresh start to my life, and no better way to dig in than with a rousing game of tickle the toddler. Better than brunch in bed. I think. Anyway, that's what I did first thing, along with feeding the Babe and making a doctor appt. Do it early, when I have the ability to dial the phone and speak coherantly.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Over my life I've gone to extremes to clean. I've pushed the dirt under a rug to hide it, I've yanked appliances out of their places to scrub underneath them. Recently I lifted off the top of my gas range to really get in there and clean out the "Crap of Ages". Do you ever wonder what it looks like under there? It's not pretty. It's not just that the vacuum is heavy, or that my daughter's afraid of it, or that I hate vacuuming. It uses electricity. Electricity that could be better used running the AC during this hot, long, dry and dusty summer.

And yet there's just some things that can't be solved by the application of elbow grease. I have been enjoying the satisfaction of getting down and just washing my floors myself. Something about knowing for a fact that they're clean. But what do I do about the carpets that can't be self-scrubbed? How do I manage that?

The recommended standard for electric appliances is Energy Star . Look for the sticker on what you buy, and you'll be buying a device that doesn't suck up needless energy. Dirt Devil has just come out with a device that uses 70% less energy in a wireless device. No toddler coming along behind me, yanking the cord out of the wall! It charges faster, and seems to be easier to use. I have a Dirt Devil vacuum right now, and have never had a major problem with it (and believe me, the things I put this poor vacuum through, it deserves a day at the spa!).
Sponsored by Dirt Devil AccuCharge

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I just posted my Cheeseburger Mac recipe over here. Here's the breakdown of what this meal cost us:

1 pound ground beef, $2
1 can peas, $0.49
1 box Macaroni and Cheese, $0.75

Total for the dish: $3.24

Given the normal portions, this serves about 6. Cost per person: $0.54

Isn't that a frugal meal? Yummy, too. I normally try to stretch the beef, using 3/4 pound of meat instead of a whole one, but tonight we all really had a craving for meat. Using that amount, the total for the dish is $2.74 and $0.46

Loving how those grocery dollars are stretching.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Last week at the dollar store I indulged a curiousity I had been having for a while. I bought a pedometer and started counting my steps. It's interesting to note that while I consider myself sedentary, my step count is actually in the 10,000 steps range. Somewhere I heard that this was a desirable number and although I've yet to do serious research beyond a simple Net search, I am going to try to keep that up. Maybe add some steps here and there. Since the device clips onto my waistband, I can forget it's there. It's not easily found by the Preschooler (big bonus) and it's a tangible way to see that I'm really doing something.

Fitness. Such a mythical, magical thing to me. It's been on the unattainable list for most of my life, and I keep saying that I want to get in better shape even though I've got little stamina and less strength to do it. Sometimes I'll overexert, and then I've got to take to bed for several days. Chasing these kids around has made me more aware. Do I want to become a mother that's always sick, or just a mother that has to conserve her strength and stamina for other things. I want to run with them to the park. I want to play with them, to someday take them to an amusement park and have the ability to more than walk from the parking lot to the front gate and hold their bags while they have fun on the rides.

Maybe the steps are a move in the right direction. Maybe they'll help in small ways to bring me closer to that day.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Robbie's finally sounding better on a consistant basis. The Preschooler is finally starting to interact with me again on the level she was before this cold knocked us all for a loop. I'm feeling like I can maybe make a worthy dent in the neverending cycle of housework.

Must be Thursday.

Once I came home with a can of spam on a thursday, and the Boy took one look at it and made a rude comment. I don't remember what it was, but it was to the effect of "I'm not eating that". And like most things that eventually get eaten, I cooked it up in a recipe I had laying around, and didn't mention to him that it was spam, and he ate it. Even gave me a compliment on the dish. I bring this up because that's on the menu again for us tonight. It's a sweet-n-sour type dish, with spam and pineapple and fried rice and I'm looking forward to it.

Spam's cheap. Relatively speaking. I can get a can for 1.89, and stretch it over two main meals. If you treat it gently some people can't tell the difference between this and canned ham (which I love using, and which has frequently gotten rave reviews from my family). I'm stretching the food dollar pretty far this month, and enjoying it (which is pretty nice, really) and waiting for the economy to ease up to the point that we can go out to eat again at a restaurant with a sit-down menu.

As my earlier post pointed out, I do love the ability to stay home and raise these two kids, handful though they be. I enjoy the sites that make it possible to do this. Paid blogging. Crafts from time to time. Other things, here and there, as I can get them. If this appeals, remember the two rules of this sort of thing: never pay for the opportunity to make money, and never do something that you're ashamed to tell other people about.
The ways I choose to balance the budget at the end of the month are changing again- every other month I sit down with the account books and the expenses and what I can do to affect them. It's not always an obvious choice. One thing I found that I need to do, as much for me as for the bank account, is to earn money while I'm caring for the house and kids. There are umpteen million ways out there to do this. Some are practical, some are less so, some are outright scams to get money out of my wallet and give little/nothing in return.

One way that I've found to succeed at this is paid blogging. As readers of this site will be aware, I've dabbled in this for about a year now. I started with PayPerPost, which is awesome. Recently I started working with the new site, SocialSpark. It's the next generation of PayPerPost, tweaked to provide better opportunities both for bloggers and advertisers and brought to you by the same creative genius. I like them because not only is the pay decent, but they don't want anything from you beyond your best efforts and creativity. Unlike other companies that promise a work-at-home income while sitting in your pajamas, this one doesn't want you to pay them. Not setup fees, not membership fees, not one of those places where you pay a fee for a product with the promise that you'll get that money back once you jump through their hoops. Nothing upfront.

What do they want? Primarily, a grasp of the english language. You need to have a blog, which can be done easily for free. You need to have that blog for a while; no setting it up just to do this stuff. It has to be a real blog, with real original content, 90 days old with no gap of greater than 30 days betwen posts. You need to add a small piece of code to that blog, and then wait for their team to manually approve your blog before you can start taking opportunities. That was the basic standards for PayPerPost, and SocialSpark has added several tidbits that make their new platform even better.

One of them is full in-post disclosure. Paid posts are clearly known as such. No trying to guess whether or not you've been compensated for this item, whether or not your view might be skewed by the thought of a payment behind the scenes. There is 100% transparency; if you go to the site you can see what bloggers took which opportunity, how much they get paid for promoting the product or service, who paid for that opportunity in the first place. There are 100% real opinions. No more taking a half-relevant topic or even a completely off-base topic to what your blog is really about. This makes it more relevant to your readers, easier to write about, it makes me as a poster happier about accepting money for the post and less like I have to slink around feeling ashamed. As my mother once told me, if you feel ashamed for doing something, you're likely doing it for the wrong reasons and shouldn't be doing it at all.

Social Spark is also search-engine friendly. Have you been concerned that your google rank is being affected or could be affected by doing paid posting? There are a lot of strongly held opinions on this. The opportunities offered are all in compliance with the no-follow rules. Personally, I'm not sure how that works, and I don't care enough to keep track of what the current thinking on it is today. But I know that there are plenty of people who do, and this is a good thing for them.

Sponsored by SocialSpark

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Note to self: Always, always, check the diaper bag for bottles. Even when you think you've already done so. I just discovered the remnants of a bottle from the weekend. I'm debating whether or not I should just throw the sucker out and not have to deal with it.

I'm cheap, but this may have crossed the threshold of what I consider Too Much Ick to deal with.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I've been hearing all sorts of wonderful things about one of the blankies I had made for Robbie- I didn't think it was anything special, really, just something I had thrown together because I thought that it would be fun to make up and it was a useful texture. It's just a plain tube of straight knitting- nothing fancy. Just one smooth expense of plain handknitting, all the way around, thick without being too thick and smooth to the touch. No holes for little hands to get stuck in. Durable, plain, useful. Easy to throw into the stroller or the car, easy to throw over the sleeping baby when you need a stretchy hug.

So I'm going to make another one, white, and put it over in the etsy shop. Maybe it'll find a home. All I know is that the pediatrician's office is full of new moms who threaten to steal the one we have. And that I can never get done washing it because it's become the favorite one for clinging to, despite the umpteen other blankets in the linen cupboard.
Incidentally, I stand corrected about the price of gas. Last night on the way home from the emergency room I paid $4.59 for regular. The pop you may have heard was the sound of my brain imploding.
Does anyone, anywhere, know the proper laundering method for Desitin in clothing? My daughter helped herself to about two-thirds of a tube. While warm soapy water and a lot of scrubbing got it off her hands, hair, face, body, and tongue- I'm drawing a blank as to what to do about the clothes she was wearing.

Monday, June 09, 2008

I keep hearing worse things about the economy, and they're coupled with the evidence of my own eyes. It's expensive. It's getting worse. No one knows or will hazard a guess as to when it will get better. Last year this community seemed to hold out hope that next year, this year, would see an improvement. That was before the drought did not ease. That was before worsening water restrictions and tougher penalties. That was before gas prices hit $4.50 in this town, in a town where you have to drive to get anywhere. It is vaguely possible to get around without one, but if you have any sort of special circumstance or an emergency, what will you do?

The efforts I've made here to cut the electric use in the past month have paid off. I can see it on the bill; yeah, I was holding my breath when it came, wondering if it really did any good to turn all the lights out at night, whether or not it was doing good to keep my own body on the sun's schedule instead of some self-imposed version of what I "should" be calling a bedtime. Since the kids typically get up at dawn every day and are down by sunset, I can easily get myself to follow their lead. Going to bed early has made all those early mornings easier. Hanging out the laundry helps. Even though we ran the AC a lot this month, even though there was a stretch of about a week in which I could barely stand to turn it off, the electric bill was manageable. This, I can cope with. It's a reaffirmation that I'm making a difference. I'm doing something to make a real impact on our budget instead of just spending money.

Do you ever feel, as a housewife, that all you do is spend money? Grocery money. Diaper money. The kids need new shoes. Those work-from-home schemes look better and better as time goes by and dollars slip through your fingers. So I have a little etsy shop, and have ads on this site (hint, hint), and do paid blogging when I can. I'm saving money on the budget, and counting my blessings that the kids are growing so slowly (on the small end, as preemies) that they get full use of their clothes. The Preschooler just now needed new sneakers- she's been in the same pair for about a year now. She also just now needed new clothes- a wardrobe full. Which she will be wearing until she wears them out, since her body type is so petite.

I think the most important thing to do to get through this summer is to keep an eye on my blessings. They keep me happy, keep me feeling positive, and if I've got a good attitude it's easier to keep from falling into a slump of overwhelmed despair at how much we can't do. Our household is running on cash, not credit. We're barely in the black, but we're not sinking further and further into debt. That's something. We've got two beautiful children, and my Boy has a steady job with health insurance, and there's a roof over our head that doesn't leak.

I don't think I need much more than that.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

This past week has seen a lot of my newly started routines around the house sputter. They didn't get done; I managed to scrape by with the bare minimum happening. Dishes, clean counters, and trash taken out daily. The rest of the house- laundry piled in clean drifts in the laundry room waiting for me to fold and put away. The toys lay where they fell at the end of the day. The children were fed and dressed in clean clothes and not much beyond the daily playtime happened.

This can change. Today I made the choice to stay home rather than get everyone up way too early, and we slept in. I was too exhausted to move. The children were worn out from the past couple of days. We all needed to sleep. And now I'm plowing through the day, five minutes at a time. Dishes are put away. Dirty ones are going to live in a pan of hot soapy water. The weeds in the front yard that poke up in tall clumps every few feet are being trimmed down. Yes, I'm using a pair of scissors and cutting the grass. It's not as strange as it sounds. The majority of the yard is still low-growing and very trim, it's just those clumps that stick way up and make the whole thing look so untidy. Much cheaper to chop them off then to pay the lawn service $30 to come and mow this week. Let them come back when we have something to do that's worth the fee.

Right now, today, I'm getting things done. Feeling positive. I can do this.